Strawberries, with their luscious red berries and sweet, juicy flavor, are a cherished fruit in British gardens. Whether enjoyed freshly picked, transformed into jams, or nestled in the heart of a summer dessert, strawberries are a versatile and beloved addition to any home garden. However, to embark on a successful strawberry-growing journey, it’s crucial to choose the right strawberry plant variety that suits your preferences and garden conditions. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore different strawberry plant varieties available to British gardeners and provide expert insights into what to consider when making your selection.
What to Consider When Buying Strawberry Plants
Before we dive into the world of strawberry varieties, let’s heed the advice of experts on what to be cautious about when going out to look for strawberry plants for sale:
Choose the Right Type
Strawberries come in various types, each with distinct characteristics. The three primary types are June-bearing, everbearing, and day-neutral strawberries.
– June-Bearing Strawberries: These varieties produce a single, abundant crop in late spring or early summer. If you’re looking for a concentrated harvest to enjoy fresh or for preserving, June-bearing strawberries are an excellent choice.
– Everbearing Strawberries: Everbearing strawberries provide two smaller crops, one in late spring and another in early autumn. They are ideal for gardeners who prefer a more extended harvest season, offering fresh strawberries over a more extended period.
– Day-Neutral Strawberries: Day-neutral strawberries are known for their continuous fruiting throughout the growing season, from late spring to early autumn. These varieties are perfect for gardeners who want a steady supply of strawberries all summer long.
Consider your gardening goals and preferences when selecting the type of strawberry plant that suits you best.
Strawberries are sensitive to climate conditions. Some varieties are better suited to specific regions of the UK due to their cold hardiness or heat tolerance. Ensure the strawberry variety you choose is suitable for your local climate to maximize your chances of success.
To ensure the health and productivity of your strawberry patch, it’s crucial to buy certified disease-free plants from a reputable source. Strawberry plants can be susceptible to diseases like verticillium wilt and powdery mildew. Reputable nurseries like ChrisBowers & Sons take great care to provide disease-free strawberry plants, reducing the risk of problems down the line.
Taste and Intended Use
Consider your taste preferences and how you plan to use your strawberries. Some varieties are exceptionally sweet and perfect for fresh eating, while others are more suitable for making jams, preserves, or baking. Knowing your intended use will help you select the right flavor profile for your strawberries.
With these considerations in mind, let’s delve into the delightful world of strawberry varieties and explore the diverse options available to British gardeners.
Classic Strawberry Varieties
The Elsanta strawberry is a classic choice for British gardeners. It’s renowned for its exceptional flavor, combining sweetness with a hint of tartness. Elsanta strawberries are large, glossy, and uniform in shape, making them perfect for both fresh consumption and preserving. These strawberries are typically June-bearing, providing a concentrated harvest in early summer.
Honeoye strawberries are an early-season delight, offering one of the first strawberry harvests of the year. They are known for their vibrant red color, juicy texture, and sweet flavor. Honeoye strawberries are a popular choice for gardeners eager to enjoy fresh strawberries as early as possible.
Cambridge Favourite is a beloved British heirloom strawberry variety known for its exceptional taste and fragrance. These strawberries are sweet and aromatic, making them a favorite for fresh eating and dessert preparations. They are typically June-bearing and produce an abundant crop in early summer.
Everbearing Strawberry Varieties
Seascape strawberries are a popular choice among gardeners seeking an extended harvest season. These everbearing strawberries produce medium-sized, sweet berries from late spring to early autumn. Their disease resistance and adaptability make them a reliable choice for British gardens.
Mara des Bois
For a touch of French elegance in your garden, consider Mara des Bois strawberries. These everbearing strawberries boast a unique flavor profile, combining the sweetness of wild strawberries with a hint of tartness. They are ideal for fresh eating and are known for their exceptional fragrance.
Day-Neutral Strawberry Varieties
Albion strawberries are a day-neutral variety known for their continuous fruiting throughout the growing season. They produce large, firm, and sweet berries that are perfect for fresh consumption and dessert preparations. Albion strawberries are disease-resistant and adaptable to various growing conditions.
Tristar strawberries are another excellent choice for day-neutral strawberry lovers. These berries are sweet, aromatic, and ideal for fresh eating. Tristar strawberry plants are known for their robust growth and ability to thrive in containers or hanging baskets, making them a versatile addition to any garden.
Alpine Strawberry Varieties
Baron von Solemacher
Alpine strawberries, often called “wild strawberries,” offer a unique twist on traditional strawberries. Baron von Solemacher alpine strawberries produce small, intensely flavorful berries with a hint of pineapple-like sweetness. These strawberries are perfect for edging flower beds or growing in containers.
White Soul alpine strawberries are known for their ivory-white berries that offer a delicate, sweet flavor. These compact plants are ideal for smaller gardens, and their charming white strawberries add a touch of elegance to any setting.
Tips for Growing Successful Strawberries
Once you’ve selected your strawberry varieties, it’s time to start your strawberry-growing journey. The following are some important guidelines that will assist you in achieving a fruitful harvest:
In order to improve drainage and fertility in the soil, it should be prepared by adding compost or other well-rotted organic matter. Ensure the pH of the soil is around 6 to 6.5, as strawberries prefer slightly acidic conditions.
Plant strawberry plants with adequate spacing to allow for air circulation and minimize the risk of disease. Depending on the variety, space plants about 12-18 inches apart in rows.
Apply a layer of mulch, such as straw or pine needles, around the base of the strawberry plants. The use of mulch helps to preserve soil moisture, maintains temperature regulation, and inhibits the growth of weeds.
Provide consistent moisture to your strawberry plants, especially during dry spells. Water at the base of the plants to avoid wetting the foliage, which can lead to fungal issues.
Pest and Disease Management
Regularly inspect your strawberry plants for pests like aphids and slugs. Implement organic pest control methods as needed. Keep an eye out for signs of disease and remove affected plants promptly to prevent the spread of infection.
Fertilize your strawberry plants with a balanced fertilizer in the spring, following package instructions. It is important to avoid over-fertilizing your plants because this can result in an abundance of vegetative growth at the expense of fruit production.
Harvest ripe strawberries gently by pinching or cutting the stem to avoid damaging the plants. Strawberries are best enjoyed immediately after picking for the freshest flavor.
Growing strawberries in your garden is a delightful and rewarding experience that allows you to enjoy the taste of summer all year round. Whether you prefer the classic sweetness of Elsanta, the extended harvest of Seascape, or the continuous fruiting of Albion, there’s a strawberry variety suited to your garden and taste preferences.
By carefully considering your strawberry plant selection, tending to their needs, and following best practices for cultivation, you’ll be well on your way to savoring the delicious fruits of your labor. So, why wait? Plant your strawberry patch today and look forward to the joy of plucking ripe, juicy strawberries from your garden for years to come.